Name: Phil
Member since: 2001-05-28 04:25:03
Last Login: 2012-05-06 15:15:05



I'm a high school junior. I've just started with robotics, but I've been working with electronics for about 5 years, on and off. I'm currently working on my first robot. Well...seeing as I don't have anything better to do, here's how I got started in robotics (from the begining):

When I was 6, I decided to learn how to use the computer that my dad bought (I was a little nerd [probably too much Star Trek]). Mainly, I just played the games, yes those horrible DOS games...but at the time, I thought they were cool. By the time 3rd grade rolled around, we got a new computer, with Windows 3.1! I thought that was the greatest thing ever. After another 2 years, I would become a Windows expert (as much as a 5th grader with no formal training could be).

By the beginning of 6th grade, I picked up model rocketry as a hobby. One day, I was taking a part one of those cheap remote control cars you get at Toys R Us. It suddenly hit me that the electronics in it could be modified to be a remote controlled rocket launcher. 2 months and $40 (to a kid with no income, that's a lot) later, I had completed my first electronics project. One problem, it didn't work. After I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, I eventually abandoned the project (I did figure out how to fix it a few months ago, but I no longer have any use for it, so I didn't bother). After drifting away from model rocketry (thus leaving a few pounds of gun powder in the garage), I picked up electronics. I didn't have the knowledge (or imagination) to acctually make something, so I just fixed things.

When that got boring, I moved on to studying theoretical physics. I came up with a time travel paradox, but apparently, nobody believes a 14 year-old about theoretical physics. About a year later, I was reading A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, and found out that he came up with the same idea, using the same example. Great minds think alike :) Anyway...while looking for one of my dad's books in the garage that I had seen a few years before (I have no idea why an electronic engineer would have to know about astronomy), I found his electronics books from college. With new reasources at hand, I started my hobby in electronics again.

After learning about logic circuits, I was inspired to make a robot. While doing research on the net, I came across BEAM robotics. I decided to start with that. I only built one BEAM robot and moved on to MCU robots. And here I am now. do you like my long story?

Recent blog entries by phil

2 Jun 2001 (updated 12 Oct 2001 at 22:06 UTC) »

I'm probably getting ahead of myself seeing as I don't have a robot yet, but I started looking for local robotics competitions. To my amazement, I couldn't find any except the SFRSA competition. If I were living anywhere else in the country, I wouldn't be that surprised, but this is Silicon Valley! It's like going to New Orleans and finding out that they don't have any okra to put in your gumbo (if you don't understand that, don't worry, it isn't a very good joke).

Anyway...I'm still in awe of the fact that Silcon Valley doesn't have any robotics competitions. Well, if you know of any competitions I've over looked, please e-mail me at

28 May 2001 (updated 28 May 2001 at 05:06 UTC) »

Well, I guess seeing as this is my first entry, I'll start off with the current status of my latest project.

Obviously, I'm working on a robot (yet to be named). I'm using a BS2SX as the controller. Being an experimental project, I'm giving it all the sensors I can think of: IR proximity,light, touch, sonar (if i can ever get the thing working), and sound (if I can ever understand op amps so that I can make an amplifier). I've also designed myself a carrier board for the BS. I decided that there weren't enough I/O ports for my purposes, so I multiplexed (and demultiplexed) them. I now have (when I make the board - I've only prototyped it) a BS2SX with 8 I/O, 8 inputs, and 8 outputs.

Being my over confident (yet so pessimistic) self, I may have made the project too big for just starting out in robotics. But then again, it's just a group of electronic circuits (or one big one, depending on how you look at it) on wheels. I have plenty of experience with electronics, that's helped me out alot though the course of this project.'s a list of what I've done so far:
-spend a few hours (over a course of a few days) doing research
-design circuits (except the sonar, which I found on the internet, I designed everything from the switch debouncer [no longer has a practical use after choosing not to make wheel encoders] to the IR sensor, to the BS carrier board)
-buy parts
-prototype circuits (sonar still doesn't work)
-design PCBs

Here's what I've learned:
-don't assume, double check pinouts
-moms don't like the table in the dinning room used as a workshop
-how to design PCBs (much, much better than point to point soldering) -other little things that I came across while doing research


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  • mohit certified phil as Journeyer
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